Accused in Easter Sunday fire is an ‘intellectual’ who made film about Catholic ‘brainwashing’

Share Button

National Post

April 19, 2017 9:55 AM ET

A still from Marc Porlier's documentary, "The Gospel According to Marc."

Vimeo   A still from Marc Porlier’s documentary, “The Gospel According to Marc.”

The former altar boy accused of setting fire to a Toronto church on Easter Sunday is a “highly intellectual” man who struggles with mental health issues, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

Toronto Police

Toronto Police   A still from surveillance video, showing the man police believe to have started a fire at St. John the Evangelist Church on Sunday.

Marc Porlier, 43, is charged with arson and mischief in the fire at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. The fire burned one room and caused smoke damage throughout the building before it extinguished itself, sometime before 8 a.m. Sunday. The church’s priest, Andrew Materak, said surveillance cameras caught the arson on film. They show a man breaking a window and pouring a flammable liquid into the sacristy, the room where the priest prepares for mass.

Speaking outside the church Monday, Mayor John Tory suggested a “divine hand” had spared the church further damage, CBC News reported. Still, the Archdiocese of Toronto estimated repairs will cost between $50,000 to $100,000.

On Tuesday, Porlier appeared at a Toronto courthouse with his parents, who are both parishioners at the church their son is accused of torching, his lawyer Daisy Bygrave said.

Porlier was raised as a member of St. John, she said, and served as an altar boy there as a child. He studied economics at York University and worked in the finance industry. But, for at least 17 years, Bygrave said, Porlier dealt with mental health challenges.

“He’s very well-read; he’s read over 2,000 books,” Bygrave said. “He’s intelligent, and he has a mental health disorder, as I am coming to understand. And I think things will make more sense when you look at the two in context.”

Porlier wrote and directed a 2011 film, entitled “The Gospel According to Marc,” where he claimed to have been brainwashed by the Roman Catholic church.

The Gospel According To Marc from Marc Porlier on Vimeo.

The 38-minute film is a series of long monologues, which Porlier delivers staring directly into the camera, about his quest for truth. He speaks about his career at mutual fund companies and investment firms. He details how he left the financial industry and started to study “Eastern philosophy, psychology, world religions, mysticism, a little bit of quantum physics.” The monologues are interspersed with skits, in which Porlier plays all roles, including the devil, himself and a character resembling God.

“The reason I’m doing this film is because I was raised Roman Catholic,” he said. “And to me, what that means is that I was raised in a cult.

I was raised Roman Catholic. And to me, what that means is that I was raised in a cult

“I’d like to say that I didn’t like being brainwashed, but as a kid I actually wanted to be a priest,” he said. “As I got older … I realized how much fear and control and division was at the root of that institution.”

Bygrave, Porlier’s lawyer, said using the film as evidence of any animus toward the church ignores the broader message.

“It’s a situation where he is describing his own soul-searching and his own quest for knowledge,” she said.

Porlier enlisted filmmaker Vik Moudgill to assist with the project. Moudgill said he was working as a sales clerk at a Henry’s camera store in Thornhill, Ont., when Porlier came in looking to buy equipment. Porlier told Moudgill about his project and Moudgill eventually agreed to help. Porlier bought $3,000 in equipment and gave it to Moudgill after finishing the project, as per their deal.

“He’s probably one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met,” Moudgill said. “I was just floored by this man.”

Porlier has yet to enter a plea on the arson and mischief charges. He was remanded into custody after his brief appearance in court on Tuesday. He is scheduled to appear Friday in bail court.

1 Response to Accused in Easter Sunday fire is an ‘intellectual’ who made film about Catholic ‘brainwashing’

  1. Sylvia says:

    A little more about the man who set that Easter Sunday fire at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Toronto

Leave a Reply